'The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre' by Stephen D. Youngkin

The Lost One:
A Life of
Peter Lorre



Chapter 3

Peter Lorre's
(A Sample)

Critics Are
Saying . . .

The Author

What's New!


Peter Lorre

Peter Lorre:
The Man,
The Actor


Photo Album

Poster Art



Radio Programs


The Lorre family very generously opened their photo album to me. Some pictures were graciously given, others I copied and returned. On one of my many visits to California, Cathy pulled a box from a closet. I was dismayed to see that the bottom half of what appeared to be a greasy tool chest contained a stack of her father’s photos. Many were movie stills and publicity photos.

However, there were also multiple copies of a series of formal studio sittings taken by a Fox photographer in 1936-37. The fact that they survived his many moves over a period of nearly thirty years told me they held a special interest for him.

Except where noted, all photos are from the collection of Stephen Youngkin.
For a larger image, click on the thumbnail. A new window will open.

Peter Lorre, 1935

Peter Lorre calling home? Deciding where to live in Los Angeles generated friction between Peter and Celia. Always protective of his privacy, he preferred to live as far as possible from the Hollywood studios. She, on the other hand, knowing that her husband was not a good driver, wanted to live close to his work. On the set of Mad Love (MGM, 1935).

Peter Lorre and Maureen O'Sullivan, 1935

During filming of Mad Love (1935), Peter chats with MGM contract player Maureen O’Sullivan, best remembered for her role as “Jane” opposite Johnny Weissmuller’s “Tarzan.”

Peter Lorre, 1935

A series of photos depicting Peter Lorre having a bust of himself made during the filming of Mad Love for MGM in the summer of 1935.

A bust of Peter Lorre, 1935

The completed bust of Peter Lorre, 1935.

Dan O'Mahoney and Peter Lorre, 1935

Dan “Danno” O’Mahoney, heavyweight wrestling champion of the world (1935-1936), gives Peter Lorre a hard time during a visit to Columbia Studios, 1935. The Irish wrestler was on a tour of the West Coast that summer. Peter was a huge fan of professional wrestling and frequently attended matches. A “thank you” goes to Janet Fuentes for identifying “Danno” for us.

Peter Lorre, Elissa Landi, and Alan Mowbray, June 1935

Out with Italian actress Elissa Landi, an unidentified woman, and Alan Mowbray. An English character actor of the “stiff upper lip school” of British acting, Mowbray was also a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild and sat on its Board of Directors. It appears that Lorre’s hair is growing out after filming Mad Love. June, 1935.

Peter Lorre, 1935

Peter Lorre getting a shave during filming of Crime and Punishment (1935). Tonsorial treatments notwithstanding, Lorre felt he was no match for the “extraordinarily handsome” Raskolnikov. “If only I looked like Joseph Schildkraut,” he confided to co-star Marion Marsh. “He was a very, very handsome fellow. This is how someone should look.”

Peter Lorre, 1935

Peter Lorre makes time to study the script of Crime and Punishment while readying for the day’s shoot. Co-workers reported that the actor kept very much to himself during filming. Said Marion Marsh: “He hardly spoke to anyone and I really thought it was because of his English. It wasn’t very good. It was proper when he did speak, but I think he was a little bit timid about it.”

Peter Lorre, 1935

Peter Lorre clowns around on the set of “Raskolnikov’s apartment” between shots on Crime and Punishment (Columbia, 1935).

Director Josef von Sternberg, Peter Lorre and Edward Arnold, 1935

Josef von Sternberg directs Peter Lorre and Edward Arnold on the “Inspector Porfiry’s office” set for Columbia’s Crime and Punishment (1935).

A caricature of Peter Lorre by Paolo Garretto, 1936

To announce Peter Lorre’s upcoming role in Secret Agent (1936), the American magazine Vanity Fair made use of his distinctive appearance for the caricature (drawn by Italian artist Paolo Garretto) and his screen image for the caption: “That bland smile of his is ten times as nasty as the frowns from lesser villains . . .”

Peter Lorre, 1936

Peter Lorre in make-up as “The General” for Hitchcock’s Secret Agent (1936). Lorre seemed to be fascinated with the owl. In the endpaper of Celia Lovsky’s diary, he wrote, “Dear Untier, for 1936, the memorable year in which the fairylike rise of the owl begins” and signed it with a sketch of an owl. Peter also loved to amuse Celia with his owl faces. In fact, the most prominently displayed photo of him in her apartment pictured – in several images, side by side – making his famous day and night owl faces. In Crack-Up (1936), he even worked the “faces” into his portrayal of “Colonel Gimpy.”

Peter Lorre and John Gielgud, 1936

Lorre and Sir John Gielgud perch on trunks behind the scenes on Secret Agent (1936). Gielgud reported that Lorre was nice to him in rehearsals, but in takes, expertly positioned himself in ways that earned him a reputation as a scene stealer.

Alfred Hitchcock directs Peter Lorre and John Gielgud, 1936

Alfred Hitchcock (center) directs Peter Lorre, John Gielgud, and an unbilled actor on the set of Secret Agent (Gaumont-British, 1936), as Lorre and Gielgud take a tour of a chocolate factory acting as a front for espionage activities.

Alfred Hitchcock, Peter Lorre, John Gielgud, Madeleine Carroll and Father Christmas, 1936

The wrap party on Secret Agent (Gaumont-British, 1936) was held in December, 1936, with a Christmas theme, complete with “Father Christmas” (center). Director Alfred Hitchcock (far right), John Gielgud (behind Hitchcock), Peter Lorre (in costume as “The General” and standing behind the flag, “The Poocha Cake”), and Madeleine Carroll are among the celebrants.

Artist Gitano's caricature portrait of Peter Lorre, 1936

As Peter Lorre’s voice lent itself to comic imitation, so his unique features – especially his eyes, which he described as “soft-boiled eggs” – inspired caricature. Lorre was gratified by impersonations, whether vocal or artistic. While Secret Agent (1936) was in release in London, the artist Gitano created a portrait of Lorre’s character “The General” for the British publication The Bystander, a tabloid published weekly by the Illustrated London News – using skeins of black silk, a scarf, a gold earring, a boutonniere, and a tie-pin, in addition to paint.

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The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre (2005) by Stephen Youngkin – now in its third printing and winner of the Rondo Award for "Best Book of 2005" – is available in bookstores everywhere, as well as these on-line merchants.

The Films of Peter Lorre (1982), also by Youngkin, is out of print, but copies may be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble below. Interested in Lorre's radio and television performances? Check out Radio Showcase and Movies Unlimited. Netflix has Lorre movies for rent.

U.S. Amazon – Soft-bound
Amazon U.S. – Hard-Cover

Amazon Canada – Hard-Cover
Amazon Canada – Soft-bound

Amazon U.K. – Soft-bound
Amazon U.K. – Hard-Cover

University Press of Kentucky
Barnes & Noble – Nook and Hard-bound